Spartan Strong: Michigan State upends No. 17 Indiana in first home game since deadly shooting

Feb 21, 2023; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan State Spartan students take part in a moment of memorial for the students killed and injured by a shooter last week on campus before they host the Indiana Hoosiers at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan State students take part in a moment of memorial for the students killed and injured by a shooter last week on campus. (Dale Young/Reuters)

A Michigan State campus rocked by a mass shooting that left three students dead is embracing normalcy as best it can.

On Monday, that meant the return to campus for students. On Tuesday, that meant the return of Michigan State basketball to the Breslin Center for the Spartans' first home game since last Monday's shooting claimed the lives of Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser and Alexandria Verner and wounded five others.

Michigan State's previously scheduled home game against Minnesota was postponed in the aftermath of the shooting. Instead, last Wednesday, head coach Tom Izzo addressed a mourning campus and the gun violence that sent it into upheaval.

Tuesday brought a more familiar and considerably less substantial challenge — No. 17 Indiana. Flanked on all sides by a fan base clad in white T-shirts reading "Spartan Strong," Michigan State picked up an 80-65 upset over its Big Ten rival as it looks to improve its NCAA tournament standing.

Prior to tip, Michigan State held a moment of silence honoring the victims of the shooting.

Indiana players and staff joined their Michigan State counterparts on the court while wearing their own black hoodies reading "Spartan Strong." Izzo wiped tears from his eyes.

Then it was down to the business of basketball.

Indiana took control early, opening an 8-0 lead it extended to 22-13 late in the first half, buoyed by 5 straight points from All-America candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis. But a Tyson Walker 3-pointer stopped the Indiana run and sparked an 11-2 stretch from the Spartans to tie the game at 24-24 with 3:57 remaining in the half. From there, the Spartans were in control as they entered halftime with a 35-29 edge.

They extended the lead to 10 points in the second half's first minute and never looked back. When the clock ticked to zero on the 15-point win, Izzo put his head in his hands on the Michigan State bench.

Players and coaches then shared hugs and greetings in the postgame handshake line. And Walker, who missed his first four shots en route to leading the Spartans with 23 points, talked about what the game meant.

"We had to recognize, the game was bigger than just us," Walker told ESPN. "We were playing for the whole community, not just us. My motto when I miss: shoot to get hot, shoot to stay hot. So I just kept shooting and everybody stuck with me. So they started to fall."

Fall they did. Walker finished the night shooting 8 of 15 from the floor including 5 of 7 3-pointers.

"It sure feels good," Walker continued. "A lot of people here went through it, they were in those buildings. Just to have them with a smile on their face feels good."